Several Wolverines Notch Career-Highs In Blowout Of Houston Baptist
Michigan Wolverines Basketball had a nice blowout win tonight over Houston Baptist, 111-68, to improve to 4-0 on the early season before heading to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
U-M's 111 point performance was the first 100-point scoring game since eclipsing the century mark in a 102-64 win over Chaminade in 2017.
"I didn’t think I had been a part of a game where we scored over 100, but I forgot about the Chaminade game," junior forward Isaiah Livers said postgame.
U-M led the entire way behind huge performances from senior guard Zavier Simpson and Livers. Simpson had his fifth career double-double, a career-high 22 points and a career-high 14 assists while Livers put up a career-high 24 points on 9-10 from the floor.
"[My shot] felt good, man," Livers said postgame. "It felt like every shot was going to go in. That one in the corner, the three in the corner when it went in and out, I was like, ‘Oh man, just give me a perfect percentage.’ Everything has been feeling good and I want it to translate to the Bahamas.
"I was just trying to cut, find open the spots and try to get to them because I know the point guard is going to look for me. He had a double-double today, too. That man can pass, man. All you have to do is get open and he’s going to find you."
Although the offense seemed like the storyline, the Wolverines insist the defense was the key that led to the offensive success. U-M forced 19 turnovers and held the Huskies to 37 percent from the field.
"Honestly, it’s about defense," Livers said. "We started out really well disciplined on defense. We didn’t mess up any coverages and we got out and ran. We knew their transition defense wasn’t that good. Sometimes, some guys were leaking out because they knew. But, first and foremost, we made sure the rebound was secure and we tried to get out and run."
Sophomore center Colin Castleton notched a career-high 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting. Despite his career day on offense, he too harped on the defensive performance from himself and the rest of the team. He said he was more pleased with the defense than the offense tonight.
"The coaches told me all week to focus on my energy and all the other stuff will come," Castleton said. "It’s just something they’ve been telling me all the time — go after all the rebounds and find the pockets because X will find me, Dave will find me, Eli will find me. Just be ready whenever you have the ball. When you have an opportunity to score, go up strong."
Late in the game, the starters got a chance to watch from the bench and enjoy the action. Every player on the U-M roster got in the game and 13 out of the 14 players scored in the contest.
"Me and X were trying our best not to watch the scoreboard," Livers said. We were doing our best to try to keep the young guys locked in on defense. It got to the point where CJ got in there and you know CJ is going to let that ball up. We do it for our walk-ons."
Freshman guard Cole Bajema was another that took advantage of his opportunity. He had a mid-range jumper from about 15 feet for his first collegiate points and hit a three-pointer from deep to cap off a solid start to his career. He played 13 minutes on the night after just appearing and playing one minute against Elon. After the game, Bajema was asked what his thoughts were after not playing much in the first three games.
"Just keep my composure and build practice to prove I can go out there and play," Bajema said. "Nothing to get down on, just play as a team and get out there and when I do get a chance, prove that I can be out there."
Now, U-M has Iowa State looming, with a chance to play either Alabama or North Carolina in the semifinals the next day. The undefeated Wolverines are unranked, and feel they are underrated by the outside eyes.
"We’re big time underrated, but we got a chance to let the world know in the Bahamas. That’s just the way the game goes. You have to earn people’s respect. If you’re good, you go show them that you’re good."
The world will get to see what U-M is made of against more high-major opponents next week.
"No disrespect to Houston Baptist or Elon, they’re great competitors, but they’re not nationally ranked," Livers explained. "So, going against UNC, Alabama, Iowa State, they’re going to come out with confidence and to show people just like we are."
U-M will play three games in three days in the Bahamas, a test that some have dealt with, and some like Bajema have not.
"We prepare for it," Castleton said. "It’s just something you got to be used to. All the other teams do it, just like us so you just have to be ready. It’s what you prepare for in practice every day, so you just got to go out and do it."
"We’re about to find out [what it's like]," Bajema said. "This is my first time in college, so I’ll figure it out real quick. We’re super excited to get over there."
• Sophomore guard Adrien Nunez joined Simpson, Livers, Castleton and Bajema as he had a career-high eight points. Nunez shot 3-for-11 on field goals and 2-for-10 from beyond the arc in his 20 minutes.
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